Many middle-aged and old friends have this kind of confusion: Why do you make up for calcium for a lifetime, and the last check is osteoporosis?
Scientists also attach great importance to this phenomenon and have done a lot of big data research. On December 26, 2017, a famous medical journal, the Journal of the American Medical Association, published a paper in this area. Studies have shown that calcium and vitamin D supplementation have no significant effect on preventing fractures caused by osteoporosis. The article has attracted widespread attention from the world’s major media. In fact, there are many similar studies, such as a research paper published in the Lancet magazine in 2014 on vitamin D supplementation, published in the British Medical Journal in 2015, a supplement on calcium. The research papers all draw similar conclusions.
People can’t help but ask, what caused this result?
There are three major elements in “collecting calcium into bone”
This starts with the traditional concept of calcium supplementation. The so-called traditional calcium supplement is to increase the intake of calcium and vitamin D. Traditionally, it is considered that calcium absorption in the intestine is difficult. Increasing the absorption efficiency of calcium in the intestine is the key to calcium supplementation. Increasing the intake of calcium and vitamin D, and improving blood calcium can prevent and treat osteoporosis in middle-aged and elderly people. Children’s bones grow healthily. However, this “old concept” ignores an important step, that is, blood calcium needs to be accurately transferred to the bone to “please the bone”, and only raising blood calcium is not able to achieve “brown calcium into the bone.” The real “calcium supplement” has three major factors: the first is sufficient calcium source; the second is vitamin D3, which promotes good intestinal calcium absorption; and the third is sufficient vitamin K2, which plays the role of “collecting calcium into bone”. In this way, we can achieve better “precise calcium supplementation”.
The real calcium supplement is not just to improve blood calcium levels, but to fill most of the calcium into the bones, and the traditional calcium supplementation method does not do this well. Therefore, we often find that someone has supplemented calcium for a lifetime, and the result is osteoporosis.
So, how does vitamin K2 play the role of “brown calcium”?
A large number of basic experiments and clinical studies have shown that vitamin K2 maintains bone health mainly through three aspects: First, it promotes the carboxylation of osteocalcin. The second is to promote the activity of osteoblasts and inhibit the activity of osteoclasts. Thirty plays a role in immune regulation by inhibiting the proliferation of immune T cells in bone. Among them, vitamin K2 promotes the carboxylation of osteocalcin is particularly important.
Osteocalcin (OC), also known as bone Y-carboxyglutamic acid protein, is a protein secreted by osteoblasts. It is the specific performer of “collective calcium into bone”. It has no physiological activity when it is secreted, and it must undergo an organic chemical reaction called carboxylation to exert its physiological function. Vitamin K2 is an essential coenzyme involved in the entire reaction process.
Only after carboxylation, osteocalcin can firmly “catch” calcium salts, promote calcium deposition, and increase bone mineralization rate. Therefore, vitamin K2 is essential for maintaining bone health and preventing osteoporosis. If the body lacks vitamin K2, osteocalcin cannot form a “calcium claw”. Just as a human hand does not have a thumb, the ability to grasp is reduced, and a large amount of calcium is lost from the bone, resulting in osteoporosis.
Calcium supplementation “no need to lead” is really harmful
There is another problem: lack of vitamin K2, and long-term large amount of calcium, what is the disadvantage?
A 2011 meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal pointed out that traditional calcium supplementation increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. The British BBC has also had similar reports. These results have shocked and confused people. We don’t have much benefit in supplementing calcium for a long time. How can we still have any disadvantages?
In addition to participating in normal body functions and metabolism, calcium in the blood has two different destinations: (1) deposition in the correct parts, such as bones, teeth, and the like. (2) Deposited in the wrong part: including soft tissues such as articular cartilage, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular, gallbladder and kidney. False deposition of calcium can cause functional damage to tissues and organs at the site. Calcification of articular cartilage can cause damage to the joints such as the spine, wrist, elbow, shoulder and knee, causing osteoarthritis, etc., and severe cases can cause damage to the bone spur and joint cavity. Calcification of arterial blood vessels can lead to high blood pressure and cause chronic kidney disease.
Due to the long-term large amount of calcium supplementation, the elevated blood calcium will be deposited in soft tissues such as blood vessels if most of the elevated blood calcium does not migrate to the bones. The body has a mechanism to prevent this abnormal deposition, in which vitamin K2 can play an important role.
Vitamin K2, leading to the new concept of calcium supplementation
Numerous studies have shown that vitamin K2 has this erroneous deposition preventing calcium. It prevents vascular calcification mainly through three proteins: matrix Y-carboxyglutamic acid protein (MGP), growth arrest-specific protein 6 (GAS6), and Y-carboxyglutamic acid-rich protein (GRP). Among them, the role of MGP is particularly important, it is the strongest inhibitory calcification protein in human body. These three proteins also require carboxylation to function, and vitamin K2 is a vital coenzyme. In other words, these three proteins need sufficient vitamin K2 to function, and the lack of vitamin K2 can easily lead to vascular calcification.
Carboxylated MGP prevents calcium from depositing in soft tissues such as blood vessels and cartilage, and binds to calcium ions deposited on the walls of blood vessels, moving them out of blood vessels, and improving arterial calcification. Its mechanism of action is complex, and an important role is to prevent an osteoinductive protein (bone morphogenetic proteins, including BMP-2 and BMP-4) from acting abnormally. BMP-2 and BMP-4 are like “bad guys” in society, MGP is like “police”, and vitamin K2 plays the role of “armed police.”
Are there sufficient evidence for these effects of vitamin K2?
First of all, from the lack of vitamin K2, a large number of clinical data and animal experiments show that long-term use of vitamin K antagonists, such as warfarin, inhibits the role of vitamin K, will increase the body’s vascular calcification.
Second, a large number of clinical studies on vitamin K2 for the treatment of osteoporosis have shown that it has a good therapeutic effect and has few toxic side effects. Because of its clear role, the role of vitamin K2 in bone and vascular health has been written in the book “Biochemistry”. In the article “The Chinese Journal of Orthopaedics”, Volume 37, “The Guide to Diagnosis and Treatment of Osteoporotic Fractures”, it was pointed out that vitamin K2 can promote bone formation, inhibit bone resorption, increase bone mass, and reduce osteoporotic fractures and re-fractures.